International Games Week: Chess

In the spirit of International Games Week, I had the unique pleasure to teach two young boys how to play the wonderful and challenging game of chess. Young though these kids are, they picked up the basic points of the game surprisingly quickly and were soon playing against each other with no need for my hints or conjectures on their next move. I was glad to see that the game was still exciting in these young boys’ minds, for I do not know many children nowadays who are still interested in playing board games. It was also nice to see how the game of chess was able to give us some bonding time as they listened and questioned me on the finer points of the game.

These kids are my church youth-group leader’s children, and he was quite thankful that I taught them to play because he himself did not know. Chess is a game assigned to the smart kids and perhaps even the ones who do not fit in with the rest of the crowd; but as time goes on, it is quite a useful game to know how to play and one that one can continue to play for the rest of one’s life. Though I am no master at chess, I love to be able to sit down with someone and be able to have a silent battle with them trying to strategize, develop tactics, and anticipate their next move while also able to teach others how to play.

-Kyle H

The 2017 World Series

November 20, 2017 (Monday)

It was the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers. After a solid 7 games, the Astros would come out on top, with the Dodgers left wanting more.

I’m a huge football fan; however, this year’s world series drew my attention because it was the LA Dodgers, a local team.

The winner of the 2017 World Series was the Houston Astros, which was founded in 1962. It was their first World Series championship and they would receive the crown of the MLB’s best team.

In game 7, with the series tied 3-3, the Dodgers had the home field advantage. However, George Springer would homer again in the 2nd inning to give the Astros a lead they wouldn’t give up the rest of the game, eventually earning him the World Series MVP honors. As throughout the whole series, he played a big role in the Astros’ victory. He was quite deserved of the MVP award as this homer would mark his fourth straight game in which he hit a home run during the World Series.

Yu Darvish would receive a lot of criticism from the local news because of his poor performance, and the Dodgers would lose their chance to win a World Series they were waiting for since 1988. Due to this extreme scrutiny, it seems as though Yu Darvish may not be able to get a new contract with the Dodgers.

This victory especially significant for the city of Houston after facing devastation this year from Hurricane Harvey, and was extremely comforting for all the citizens that suffered from this catastrophe.

In the end, this year’s baseball season came to a finish. I wish the best of luck to the LA Dodgers in the next season.

-Kobe L.

Mission Viejo: Pumpkin Dive!

Looking forward to Halloween? Need a way to cool off in the sunny California weather? If so, the Pumpkin Dive is perfect for you!

Located at the Sierra Rec Center, this event is perfect for kids of all ages, especially younger ones. For only five dollars, you get access to unlimited attractions, like pumpkin decorating stations, pool play, and fun carnival games.

Halloween is a holiday many have been waiting ages for! All that candy gathered in just one day! It’s unimaginable, right.

But who wants a boring, bland pumpkin lying on their doorstep? Here at the Pumpkin Dive, tents are provided, sheltering tables and tables with mounds of crafts heaped in paper plates. Pumpkins, you’re getting a makeover. Let young ones overflow with creativity, imagination, and fun and let them decorate their own pumpkin and become their own Michelangelo!

And plus, enter the pumpkin decorating contest for a great opportunity to win a free one-month membership!

But days under the blazing California sun are incredibly hot. Cool off in the pool! But that’s not the real reason this amazing event is called the Pumpkin “Dive.” Turn the pool into a floating pumpkin patch! So decorate your pumpkins, set it into the pool, and make a beautiful, festive Halloween-themed floating pumpkin patch!

If anyone is looking for a fun, creative way to cool off and spend the afternoon, the Pumpkin Dive has it completely covered. Have a spooky Halloween!

-Katharine L.

The Pumpkin Dive at the Sierra Rec Center

While a lot of people were probably enjoying their air-conditioning on Sunday, elementary school kids, other volunteers, and I had a blast at the Sierra Rec Center. Diving for pumpkins was a lot more fun in the 95 degree heat, instead of the rain like last year.

The event lasted from 2 to 5, and started off with kids jumping into the pool to find the perfect pumpkin. I thought that pumpkins would sink to the bottom of the pool, but who knew that they float?

After the kids found their perfect pumpkin, they got to decorate! With some paint bottles, stickers, googly eyes and pom poms, I saw a lot of creative designs. Painting the pumpkin pink was a really popular choice too.

And I can’t forget about the carnival games we had. There was a basketball hoop, some bean bag tosses, and face paint. The kids won prizes, and volunteers did an amazing job with the face paint.

Even though this wasn’t a teen event, you would’ve had a blast if you brought your siblings!

-Rebecca V.

Click here to see some photos from the event!

Opera, Opera, Opera!

Would you pay $26 to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton on Broadway, live?

I know few Orange County friends who love opera, let alone are willing to see one. This may be because Orange County has few operas. I’ve been looking! The Segerstrom Center for the Arts has some performances, but Costa Mesa is pretty far. Moreover, it only has concert performances (full shows done without staging or costumes in front of an orchestra).

Recently, I discovered my favorite opera, Carmen, broadcasted live for free on the Santa Monica Pier from the LA Opera. The LA Opera is the grandest local opera house, and witnessing something this professional live was moving. Dancers were hired from the depths of Spain for a genuine Spanish vibe, and costumes shimmered and poofed in all their Spanish glory. Tickets are at least $90 for a “cheap” theatre seat, in which performers can barely be seen or heard; free showings are unheard of!

My friends and I zoomed to the pier and fangirled over the huge stage and thick French accents. The music can be found in our playlists; we hummed along the whole time. The opera is risqué, funny, and dazzling. If more people had access to opera in Orange County, I’m sure we could love and appreciate it the way this crowd did on the Santa Monica Pier. It was so enjoyable!

The Live at the Met series is broadcasting full operas live from the Metropolitan Opera House in most Regal movie theatres. This is the best opera house in the country! I’ve never seen a bigger stage, and the cameras show so much detail I can see reflections in the characters’ eyes. Tickets are around $26, with over 10 operas this year! More than the average movie ticket, but very cheap compared to live tickets, often at Hamilton prices ($855+). Only internationally famous and experienced singers have been cast! If you’re an opera fan like me or are ready to behold these regal performances, please come and support the art by attending. Few people know about it, but more should.

This is the same as $26 to see Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton live on Broadway, in the movie theatre!

The Orange County School of the Arts is also doing L’Enfant et Les Sortilèges in the spring, so look out for that!

Meanwhile, I will be hunting down local operas. I’m determined to find performances in Mission Viejo! Operas can be expensive, but I’m working on finding deals so teens can experience this difficult and powerful art form at an accessible price. I’ll keep you updated!

What local opera productions do you know of? Please comment to let me know!

-Jessica F.

Apparently, I Can’t Ride a Boat

On Saturday, August 12, from 3:30-6pm, my friends and I built a cardboard boat, and attempted to race it across the Sierra Recreation and Fitness Center Pool.

We were given two large, cardboard boxes, a roll of silver duct tape, and a new X-acto knife (in the package!). We had 60 minutes to mess around and figure out how on earth to get 16-year-old-me across a lap pool against kids a third of my size.

We decided a canoe shape would stand out aerodynamically and also look cool. We used a red pen to trace the outline of one cardboard box and had great ideas while listening to Hamilton. We made flaps to keep the edges together and coated it in duct tape.

Soon families began to cart their boats to the pool. Their boats looked very different from ours! We wondered if this was a good or bad thing. We looked back on our hard work and realized in our strategic placing of cardboard and duct tape, we had forgotten to include the other cardboard box! We hastily taped together supporting poles from the other box and hobbled the odd raft to the pool as an employee insisted we’d be disqualified in seconds.

We waited for our team name, Wrong Direction, to be called, and lined up on the bright poolside. I was the smallest, so I had been nominated to maneuver the raft. I was given a plastic, green shovel to navigate the treacherous water. How I was going to get in, I did not know. My friend etched the boat over the pool’s peak, and when he megaphone blared “GO!” I nervously put one foot in the boat and it instantly collapsed under my weight.

Laughing, I sunk into the chlorinated water and held onto the soggy, floating cardboard to try and recompose myself. The failure of our creation was magical and hilarious. It took me a while to stop giggling and not-so-gracefully heave myself out of the water. Wrong Direction did not care at all that our hard work and been reduced to mush because creating it and watching me sink (mainly watching me sink) was an as good as a reward as any.

We had so much fun, and will definitely be staying updated with the Sierra Recreation and Fitness Center’s activities, as I recommend you do as well.

-Jessica F.

Authors We Love: Meg Cabot

On August 7th 2017, Mission Viejo was graced with a visit from world famous author, Meg Cabot. There to promote her latest novel, Royal Crush, Meg Cabot has wrote many books; she has written the Princess Diaries, The Meditator, 1-800-WHERE-R-U, All-American Girl, Avalon High, The Airhead, and The Abandon series. In addition to this, she wrote numerous standalone novels. With such a wide collection of works, there is sure to be something for everyone. Just like the various characters Meg Cabot has wrote about, she has an interesting life story.

Born in Bloomington Indiana, Meg Cabot started to write stories from the age of seven. She was a big fan of Star Wars, and admired Princess Leia so much, that she wrote stories about her. As she grew older, she realized she could not do that, but she still loved Star Wars. In high school, she flunked math because she was too busy drawing all the time because she loved it as much as writing. After high school, Ms. Cabot attended Indiana University. Not sure about her major, she runs into a guy at a party who tells her not to major in creative writing. Taking his advice, she decides to major in art. During her time at college, she did not take a single writing class. At graduation, her diploma tube was empty because of that.

After graduation, Ms. Cabot moved to New York where she worked as an assistant residence hall director at New York University. There, she met the same guy from the party who told her that he was drunk at that time, and did not know what he was saying. They started to date, eventually got married, and have been married for over twenty years. Around the same time, her Father passed away, which really hurt her. She also decided to start publishing her works, but they kept getting rejected. Three years later, Ms. Cabot finally published her first novel, Where Roses Grow Wild, under her pen name of Patricia Cabot at the age of thirty. Her most famous series, Princess Diaries, was originally based on Cabot’s life about a woman her age having her mother starting to date her teacher. After writing about it, her friends feel it’s weird, so Ms. Cabot makes the girl fourteen, but nothing really happens. Ms. Cabot revises the story to make the girl a long-lost princess, and Princess Diaries is born. An interesting fact about the series is that the Father is not in the movie because the producers wanted Julie Andrews, who plays the grandmother, to have a lot of speaking parts.

As a writer, Ms. Cabot gets ideas for her novels from everywhere. Some are based on her own anecdotes, while others are just from her imagination. She advises aspiring writers to never give up their dreams. She lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her many cats.

-Anmol K.

Royal Crush and the works of Meg Cabot are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.